A stroll through the Tiergarten

Two weeks ago, a travel website named this blog one of the top Berlin blogs, citing my “fresh” views on German culture and Berlin. Since then, I’ve done everything in my power to disprove this notion by ceasing to post anything new.

I’ll try to remedy that, starting with a post that’s admittedly not terribly fresh.

On a beautiful Saturday several weeks ago, a friend and I took a stroll through the Tiergarten, Berlin’s second-largest park (behind the former Tempelhof airport) and certainly its grandest. The park is full of little treasures. One of my favorites is the memorial to gay Holocaust victims, an anonymous-looking box that curious (and sometimes homophobic, or at least not very homosexuality-exposed) visitors approach and peer into, only to back away in shock as they see a video of same-sex couples making out vigorously.

That doesn’t lend itself very well to photography. But this does:

If you look closely, you’ll see the word “love” inscribed along the central polished ribbon of this beautiful stone in different languages. That’s because it’s the love stone. Sounds innocent enough — except that it’s maybe the most controversial rock in the world.

The love stone and its four companion stones (hope, forgiveness, peace, and awakening) were each brought to the Tiergarten from a different continent by an obsessive German artist, who oriented them such that once a year they all reflect the sun’s light into a single joint beam. It’s essentially his life’s work; he personally picked out the five rocks from around the world and transported them to Germany by sailboat.

The love stone came from Venezuela — and now Venezuela wants it back. Some Venezuelans are now claiming that the stone is sacred to locals of its native region, and that the artist stole it. Others counter that no one ascribed any sort of holiness to it until it gained fame in Berlin. The debate rages on. But for now, at least, the polished rock and the four that join it in a captivating circle are a welcome addition to the Tiergarten.

Really, though, there are quite a few photogenic spots in the park. Take this one:

At the edge of a pond is a memorial, which, in typical German fashion (more on this to come in a future post), honors German (and Germanophone) composers. Here’s Mozart:

and Beethoven:

(Haydn’s on the third side, but if you’re just gonna take two photos…)


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